Friday, January 19, 2007

The lighter side of Rupert

Rob gets a piece of "work" from the new intern and gives him this markup. That night, Rob finds the second markup sitting on his chair - "from Rupert!" Damn. Interns. They don't make them like they used to!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How i-Banking is like the Wizard of Oz

It’s Christmas and you’re sitting back home stateside, watching the Wizard of Oz, and it strikes you that the wonderful world of i-banking is very much like the wonderful wizard of Oz.

Dorothy is none other than yours truly, dreaming of a place where there isn’t any trouble. Ok, a little more specifically, dreaming of place where there isn’t any trouble for yours truly. A place where you’ve made MD and nobody can throw shit your way. A magical place where smartass associates try to catch you off guard with a well though of question that you really should have thought of in the first place, and you simply shut them up by saying:

“Excellent initiative, but why are you coming to me with a half-assed job?”

You look at the shocked associate with a look of pure bliss on your face.

“You’ve thought of the problem, now go and bring me the solution. The firm doesn’t pay you to get a job half-done.”

Ah, yes, that wonderful land over the rainbow…

Somewhere on the top floor,
Way up high,
There’s an office I heard of,
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere on the top floor,
An office with a view,
And a hot assistant like Rupert’s,
Just for you.

Somewhere on the top floor,
Where you can actually see the sky,
And don’t need to do any work,
Because work’s for the likes of you and I.

Toto is the faithful intern that yours truly has the joy of training. Toto follows you around wherever you go, does all the shit you don’t want to do, and hey presto, is always happy to do it because you’re helping good little Toto to climb up the steep learning curve, being the superstar first year analyst you are (you know that you really are no such thing, but remember the first rule of posturing – you want to be a superstar, so you present yourself as such and in no time you are a superstar.

Accountants, consultants and other third party service providers who will be very happy to work for you rather than the Wicked Witch of the East (probably the associate that was staffed on the project without an analyst and was a complete hardass on all other advisers until passing on the co-ordination duties to you).

Famed for saying “you could go this way, but some people also go that way”, and lacking a brain, the scarecrow could be none other but your regular headhunter. There you are walking along the road, and without asking, you’re approached by someone you don’t know, sitting at the crossroad, telling you could go this way, or that way, and not really making you any the wiser.

The staffer whose official capacity is to use their power and influence to ensure work is distributed equally amongst the ranks and that you get to where you want to go. What the staffer is meant to be like is something like the nice Witch of the North. What a staffer is really like is the Wicked Witch of the West. Also, the staffer, much like the Wicked Witch of the West, is constantly trying to take Toto away from you.

Rupert. At the end of the day, the Wizard is at the end of the yellow brick road. Just like the wizard, Rupert’s post implies that he aught to be able to make your dreams come true and give you what you want, but as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You go to see him, asking for holiday, promotion, better deals, whatever it is, and he will be sure to:
a) Put you down to ensure he establish his BSD status, just in case you had forgotten
b) Promise to give you what you want, but you have to do something for him first
c) So he will ask you to stick it out and set an example to the rest of the ranks

a) I’m an MD, you’re an analyst. Me BSD, you nobody.
b) Sure, I’ll push for your promotion, but you need to do something for me.
c) Wait for six months and no complaining to the other analysts.
Result: wait until everyone is promoted and so will you. You would have achieved this by never going in to see Rupert in the first place.

Salary increase:
a) I’m an MD, you’re an analyst. Me BSD, you nobody.
b) Sure, I’ll push for your salary increase, but you need to do something for me.
c) Wait for six months and no complaining to the other analysts.
Result: wait until everyone’s salary is increased and so will yours. You would have achieved this by never going in to see Rupert in the first place.

You ask, and Rupert sends you off, with the impression that you have received what you wanted, without really doing anything, and relying on the system and you to solve the problem single handedly.

Moral of the story, a brainless scarecrow, heartless tin man and wimpy lion are all it takes to fill Rupert’s shoes. And all that in Technolocolour.

Meet Henrietta Pizza

As with every hot shot i-banking department, Rupert’s group is bringing lots of cash for the firm, which translates into Rupert having a disproportional allocation of pretty much anything he wants. This continuum remains until Rupert’s clients realize that his banker’s advice is rubbish and that they’re better off banking with another firm. Worry not for Rupert though, because it takes clients a few years to figure this out, and by the time they switch, he’ll have been headhunted into that firm, anyway, so good luck to you if you are a client. Once you’ve got Rupert as an advisor, you can kiss your share price goodbye.

Being recruitment season, and Rupert being made acutely aware of the desperate need to get more analysts*, Rupert pushes for more than the London office has allocated to be his fair share. As magically happens when Rupert asks, Rupert gets. One bright Monday morning, a little Italian analysts makes her way onto the floor and to the cubicle designated for her with all the subtlety and finesse of a 747 trying to land on a little sports airfield in Kent. Meet Henrietta Pizza, the team’s newest addition to the analyst ranks straight from the New York office.

As you soon find out a little bit about Henrietta, not because you asked, or were introduced, but because you couldn’t help overhearing the ‘conversation’ Henrietta was having with Rob, six cubicles away, that sounded something like this:

Rob: “Welcome to the team. We are fortunate to have such a well regarded analyst”

As Rob recovers his posture from the near blasting of the sound barrier by Henrietta’s recital, and his hair looks like he’s gelled it back in a true Wall Street Gordon Gecko style.

A smile creeps onto your face as you observe Rob struggle to keep his posture as Henrietta unleashed a few more rounds of ‘conversation’. You close your eyes and picture Rob wearing full body armour and sporting a massive sword, fighting fire breathing dragon, whose fire breathes an Italian accent. You enjoy the thought for a few brief moments and open your eyes again.

Rob has manages to retreat and is licking his wounds as he (probable is merely pretending as a way of getting away from Henrietta) holds his mobile phone to his ear and swiftly walks away towards his cubicle.

That very second, your phone rings. You pick it up only to hear Rob at the other end:

[Whispering] “Play along, my life is at stake”
[Loud] “Hi, it’s Rob. I got your email that you urgently want to speak to me”
[Whispering] “Ok, cheers mate. She’s out of hearing range. Did you see that. I’a’do’a’lot’a’da’eM’and’A’a in ‘a’da’New’a’York’a. Haha. I bet you tomorrow morning she’ll march into the office singing:

I don’t know but I’ve been told,
Banking is my path to gold,
I’ll do your pitches, deals and shit,
I’ll do all-nighters no regret,

I’ll earn top dollar, be first in class,
Coz I’m the queen of kissin’ ass,
The needs of the many above the few,
The firm’s much bigger than me and you,

Pizza is my second name,
Investment banking is my game,
You’ve been told so now you know,
Henrietta the banker is real gung ho!”

Sadly, your rolling on the floor laughing exercise must come to an end as you realize you have been laughing so hard that you desperately need to use the little boys’ room.

* Associates and senior analysts push for greater numbers of junior analysts so that they can dump all their work to these poor, excited souls with the pretext of helping them climb the ‘steep learning curve’.

Christmas Time in the City

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s Christmas time in the city and the admin staff is busy trying to find a venue for the department’s Christmas dinner. The dinner is a big event where Rupert shelves out a load of cash (carves out a portion of the department’s entertainment budget provided by the firm) and invites everyone in the department to a boozy dinner followed by a bar and club night.

You relish the fact that you will be privy to rub shoulders with the top brass in a social context, whilst not having to shelf out a penny! What a deal! The admin staff have been spending half their time on the phone and surfing the web to come up with shortlists of restaurants, clubs and bars for the various legs of the evening. Whilst focussing on this very important goal (important owing to Rupert’s role as its patron), they have conveniently neglected filing your expense claims and as you will surely find out later, you will be financing the firm’s corporate entertainment expenditure out of your own pocket because they won’t be able to reimburse your flight and hotel claims until late February, but that’s in the new year and not for now to worry about.

You decide it is a good idea to participate in this “team building” exercise, so you walk over to Melinda’s desk. Melinda is a rather typical i-banking secretary. Although she has been with the firm for over five years, she still gives people the impression that they have dialled incorrectly and have been connected to an industrial state in Essex – there have been cases where clients from overseas have a apologised and redialled, thinking that they were really put through to Melinda in Essex by mistake. Mental note – be sure to pick up your own phone at all times. Ah, but bless, Melinda is a nice girl, means well when she wants to. The only problem is that doesn’t happen to be very often.

You lean on her cubicle, smile (when faced by a such a formidable enemy, one must do one’s best to avoid conflict at all costs) and ask if you can give her a hand.

“Aw kay, posh boy. I’m trying taw get us a tayble at Annabell’s but they say they’re fully booked. That’s a load of shite, innit. Gawon, call them in your hoity toity voice and help us out.”

You agree to put your voice to good use, and jump at the opportunity to become the team hero by securing Bouji’s for after the dinner. You dial, politely ask for a table, smile and hang up. You quickly wipe the smile away, lest Melinda gets the idea that she aught to lecture you on how the class system in British society is still not eradicated and that this is a true disgrace.

Luckily for you, it worked.

“Saw, did yaw ge’ it?”

You relish the fact that the positive response you give Melinda will spread across the floor in a matter of seconds, and you will be the hero who got the team into Annabel’s. Wee done man, you can hear Rupert mumbling at you, after the tenth shot of tequila he will surely have downed by the time you reach the club. And you will modestly respond that it was your pleasure to secure a decent venue for some after dinner entertainment. You can also picture Melinda’s voice in the background as you bask in your glory in front of Rupert, screeching “Aw my, this playce is saaaw posh innit. Oh ya, saw posh indayd”.

You can also picture Henry, one of the VP’s in the team and a sheer disgrace to the world’s ever increasing population of muppets, complaining that the night would have been much more fun at his club of Choice, Bouji’s (which refused to make a booking when he called – well done mate). He will be sure to try to overcompensate for his inability to deliver by leaving his card behind the bar to order everyone a round of drinks. Hammered as he surely will be at that stage, little will he know that you will order the entire club numerous rounds of drinks before he remembers to close the tab. But surely, it’s all in the seasonal flavour of giving. Ho! Ho! Ho!